House of the Week | Contemporary Capitol Hill row house for $1.395M

This modern take on the classic row house is a departure from the traditional homes of Capitol Hill, offering a contemporary respite in a neighborhood awash with history.

Martin Ditto, president of the D.C.-based development firm Ditto Residential, transformed the one-story former commercial building into the three-story townhouse that seamlessly blends with its surroundings.

He took his inspiration for the design from the 1913 building, which was a retail establishment until the 1970s.

“We start with what is the feel of the house,” he said. “What does it want to be? In this house, it wanted to be open. It wanted to be light. It wanted to be elegant, but it didn’t want to be so hyper-modern.”

Two archetypal elements of classic row houses – an exposed brick wall and wood flooring – were incorporated into the design, but with a modern touch.

As natural light from the skylight cascades through the three floors, the white-painted brick wall shoots it into the room, giving the main living space a bright and airy feel. Light also flows into the home through a triangular window on the roof deck and through the eight-foot windows in two of the bedrooms.

The wide-plank floors throughout the house are French white oak with a dark stain and an oil finish. Their warmth contrasts nicely with the sleek contemporary features, such as the floating staircase and the stark white cabinetry and counters in the kitchen.

“The idea to me is we can combine modern elements in a house and make them feel friendly,” Ditto said. “We can combine new materials and not make them feel cold.”

Ditto wasn’t afraid to take chances. He hits whimsical notes with his center cube painted dark gray to define the dining space and his outdoor mirrors along the patio and two-car parking space.

Two blocks from Lincoln Park, this four-bedroom, four-bathroom home is listed at $1.395 million. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Listing: 1331 Constitution Ave. NE

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Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.

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Kathy Orton · December 12, 2013

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